Automobiles are a very common mode of transportation for many people. There are roughly 1.4 billion passenger cars worldwide, of which one-quarter are built in the United States. These vehicles are made by many different manufacturers and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and propulsion systems. They have become the main mode of transport for the average family, and American consumers travel three trillion miles a year by car.
Motorcycles are very similar to cars in some ways, but are significantly cheaper. They are much easier to maintain and offer better performance than most cars. A motorcycle’s maintenance is also much cheaper and more frequent than that of a car. This can be especially useful in countries where the demand for petroleum is increasing.
Motorcycles began with pedal cycles. These were sometimes called bicycles but were often fitted with small spark ignition engines. Manufacturers of these vehicles began to compete with each other in road trials to make theirs more reliable and efficient. In 1907, the Tourist Trophy motorcycle races were held on the Isle of Man. These races were endurance races, and the competition forged many new ideas. Modern motorcycles come with a variety of different features, from supercharged multivalve engines to aerodynamic bodywork.
Although the term “automobile” is often used interchangeably, many legal cases will get very technical over the definition of a motorcycle. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, motorcycles may not even be considered automobiles, although they may be included under the umbrella term of “motor vehicle.”